Minomura Kou: A great man has fallen (1980)

cover minomura itoh

I am happy to present to you a translation of a long text that Minomura Kou wrote about his reminiscences of Itoh Seiu and published in the magazine SM Collector in November 1980. I will not spoil it with further comments of my own – but I will ask again anyone finding this blog to be of interest to consider making a small donation. Details here: https://kinbakubooks.wordpress.com/2018/08/09/call-for-donations-5/

Translated by Shiba, commissioned and edited by Bergborg / KinbakuBooks

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A great man has fallen 

by Minomura Kou

My primary profession was as a painter. I was an apprentice for a Japanese painter called Kobayashi Baisen [1889–1969] in Kyoto. I was there until I joined the navy. I became strange [”oka-shi”] after coming back from the war.
I started to submit paintings to Kitan Club and somehow along the way I became an editor. Around that time, I also started writing stories and fiddling with the camera. Before long, I became a nawashi. My pen name for my paintings was ‘Kita Reiko’, which is my wife’s maiden name. I just used it as it is. One might wonder why I would use my wife’s name as a pen name, but there are many reasons for it and I can’t possibly write about all of it without this becoming too long. Simply put, Minoru-san [the editor] of Kitan Club, thought it would be best.
When I came back from the navy, I first became an editor for a local newspaper in Kyoto. From there I became a reporter and it was my first time in this profession. My first experience with printing type was before I was born. My parents were in the printing business and doing work for the publishing business. So, it’s safe to say I was in the right place.
Also, I’ve written about this before as a chance, but my grandfather was an eager collector of SM (though there wasn’t a word for it back in the old times… The term seme that Seiu-sensei used, was only used long after my grandfather’s time), and it thrilled me to the point to leading me down this path.
If I had been a dry-goods-dealer’s son… or maybe a greengrocer’s son, I would probably have remained only a reader of these kinds of things. However, being born into a family in the printing business, I grew up playing with printing types and watching the process of publishing various things. On top of which, I also had the beautiful seme-e [artistic images of torment] my grandfather left behind, and I thought I also wanted to paint pictures like that. So, I went to art school and became an apprentice for a Japanese painter. Amidst all of this, the war came and I had to take a break from this to join the navy. I barely stayed alive. In the end, it led me to the ropes and here I am.
I first heard about Itoh Seiu-sensei when I was 12–13 years old. He had painted some of the seme-e included in the book “Hentai fuuzoku shiryou” [1929] that was in my grandfather’s book collection, and there was also an introduction to his art.
Much later, in 1954, I met him in person in Tokyo. Mr. Saito Yaigo and Mr. Dan Oniroku have written a lot about Itoh Seiu-sensei, so there is no need for me to say much more, but he was the starting point for the birth of SM magazines. He is also a kind of master [shi] to me. My only regret is, however, that I never had the chance to be called his apprentice [deshi].
When I was working with Kitan Club, I received a letter from him, and in it said, “I’ll take you as a pupil [門下, monka] if you want to”. That was however only after I had written to him many times asking for his permission. However, the one accepted as a disciple was Kita Reiko, and the letter was also addressed to Kita Reiko. It seems he thought I was a woman. At the time, I was in Sakai in Osaka and working as an editor for Kitan Club and drawing under the pen name Kita Reiko. It was there that Sensei saw my paintings and that was the start of it.
It all started with me replying under my pen name to show my gratitude, but with time the exchange of letters grew. The contents of sensei’s letters were mostly about paintings; They were skilfully written on Japanese paper, stating things such as “that lamp is better drawn in this shape”, and “when a woman’s hair starts to become disarranged, it’s like this” etc, and he would also clarify for me the intentions of his drawings. Just like a kind master teaching his female apprentice.
As this progressed, it was hard for me to tell him that I was actually a man, so I never did.
Then, one day I received a letter where he wrote “…A play called Christ in Bronze will be played in Osaka and [the actress] Hanayanagi Okiku will be tied up in it, so please go see it. Also, I have written to [the kabuki actor] Ichiawa Kojiro about you, so take this other letter I’ve included with you and meet with him…”, etc.
I was troubled. I thought: ‘This has become quite a mess’. This other letter where he had written about me to Kojiro, was in an envelope, but it was not sealed, so I read it.
It said: “the woman bringing this letter is my disciple Kita Reiko. She is a female painter…”, etc.

He wrote that Reiko is researching seme-e and that he thought this play would be a great opportunity to learn. It was a very detailed introduction to Reiko.
Ichikawa Kojirou has now [1980] already passed away [1957], but he was famous for his acting. In this play, he was playing a persecuted Christian, a very important character.
I knew nothing of kabuki or of theatre at all, but I had heard he was somebody referred to as danna [Master] in the dressing room. He was actually one of the best, but I only found that out later.
Nevertheless, I was troubled.
The letter said, “the woman bringing this letter….”, but I am a man so nothing could be done. Even if I had my wife go in my place, he would probably know something was wrong as soon as they started talking.
What to do, what to do…? I regretted replying to sensei with my pen name from the start. However, I also couldn’t not go see the play “Bronze Christ”. Receiving countless of kind letters, slowly dragging myself deeper into the lie I had started with, now it had come to this. I was at my wit’s end when Minoru-san, the editor of Kitan Club, said: “I don’t really think there’s a problem. Go meet that Ichikawa Koujiro and tell him the truth. There are a lot of reasons for this, so don’t think about it too much!”
To tell the truth, the publishing company wanted the readers to believe that Kita Reiko was a woman and slowly it had become like this. It wasn’t like I wanted to deceive sensei at all. So, with that conclusion I decided to write a reply to sensei. I thought that it would be the end of my apprenticeship, so I wrote by the name Reiko. But the letter was returned to sender. Only three days later, I received a new letter from sensei. The correspondence became heavy. I decided to meet Mr. Ichikawa Koujiro and explain the circumstances and send my apologies to sensei through him. To make it smoother, I thought I would attend the closing party for “Bronze Christ”. Although I was scared, I thought it was a good opportunity to apologise and decided to go. Even so, as the day came, I’m sure you readers can imagine I was worried.

*

It was the last performance for ”Bronze Christ”. The people in the dressing room were busy. I remember feeling it wasn’t a place for someone like me.
I finally met Mr. Koujiro. He scratched his head as he read the letter from sensei. He looked puzzled and said: “Are you the person in question?” It was the last performance of the play and he was still in his stage clothes. From there, I told him everything from the beginning to end and ended with saying to him: “… so this is how it is. Can you please tell him this when you get back to Tokyo?”
Mr. Koujiro said: “Mr. Seiu told me about you. He said that you are a young and beautiful woman, so I was wondering when she’d come by. It has been on my mind. Today is the last performance, so I had almost lost hope of her coming”, and smiled bitterly.
“Even so, you’re a cruel person. Seiu-sensei will surely telephone me once I get back to Tokyo… but what am I to say?”, he said and pondered.
I was also troubled by this. What should I do?
Koujiro said: “Seiu-sensei has talked about coming to see you in Osaka, so what will you do? Until now, you’ve said you’re a woman, and you should not make an old man disappointed… No, I will say I met a beautiful woman…”
That’s what he said. That he would be lying to Seiu-sensei until the end. Mr. Koujiro wasn’t wrong to think like this; it was an act of kindness towards an old man. He asked me what he should tell Seiu-sensei about his meeting with Kita Reiko. Looking at the letters I received after this, it seems Mr. Koujiro really told him Reiko was a very beautiful woman.
“Bronze Christ” was well played, and highly praised in the newspapers. It might sound uneducated coming from a lowly person like myself, but I remember the scene with Hanayanagi Okiku being crucified as very realistic. I was taken in by her expression of anguish and her movements.
On that day, it was the last performance. The stage curtains went down and I was a bit absentminded. I could see Mr. Koujiro, waving to me, saying: “Here, come here, this way”. Going under the curtains on to the stage, there was a table with a white cloth laid out and on it was sake and beer and some snacks.
Before long, an important-looking person came and greeted everybody and proposed a toast. In hindsight, I think this is probably some kind of custom for the last day of performance.
I knew nothing of this theatrical world, and didn’t think anything but just raised my sake glass. Bando Mitsugoro, a famous kabuki actor (he later passed away from fugu poisoning in Kyoto) and Ms. Hanayanagi Okiku were standing right next to me! We were being jammed together and our shoulders bumped together so I unintentionally spilt the glass of sake in my hand. I hadn’t noticed that I was in the best seat of honour. I’ve been thinking of this a lot afterwards, but I was young back then. I didn’t think of the position my lowly self was in, so the others must have thought: “Who is he? What a helpless person, he doesn’t even have proper manners!”
And so, I went to Tokyo in 1954 and worked for the company Amatoria-sha and became an editor for the magazine Amatoria. This later lead to meeting Seiu-sensei, but it was my impression that he did not suspect that I was indeed Kita Reiko. After a sequence of events, he even seemed to think I was her husband.
He said things like: ”Minomura-kun, is Reiko doing well?”
Not knowing what to answer I said: ”Y-yes! She is doing very well!”
For this reason, it seems that sensei really thought that Reiko was his disciple, and that Minomura Kou only was an editor. However, Kita Reiko is indeed a part of me, so in this sense I am truly sensei’s disciple.
In this weird way, the incorrect assumption continued into sensei’s grave. I will talk more about this later, but I have a feeling sensei surely knew the truth, but then decided to pretend to not know of it. In the early days, there was this letter from sensei addressed to Reiko that sounded like a love letter, depending how you read it (of course, at this point, sensei must have thought Reiko to be a woman). Weirdly, sensei kept perceiving his dreamlike romance, and to this day I think it’s a bit strange. It would be sad and unfortunate if the illusion of the sweet Reiko would be destroyed by my appearance. Then again, the great Seiu-sensei was probably not somebody that would fuss over something like that. He was by nature a person with a very kind heart, and he might have forgiven me for the fact that the illusion is only an illusion.
I know the late Mr. Takahashi Tetsu heard of these love letters of Seiu-sensei from somebody, and searched for and tried to get a hold of them, but that came to nothing. It seems Mr. Takahashi Tetsu didn’t have the best impression of me, and I know the reason for this, so we weren’t close at all. Mr. Tetsu’s reason for disliking me had to do with Mr. Numa Shoso. Shortly before coming to Tokyo, there was an issue of Kitan Club where Mr. Takahashi Tetsu was criticised by Mr. Numa, and this strangely bothered Mr. Takahashi. In this instance, Mr. Takahashi knew I was an editor for Kitan Club and that was how our problematic relationship started. He must have thought I had egged on Mr. Numa to criticise him, so we weren’t really on good terms.

bild 1Picture 1: The first time I saw fully nude shibari

I just investigated about this and found out that Mr. Numa’s ‘Takahashi criticism’ was published in the 1954 April issue of Kitan Club. I’ve found a lot of interesting articles looking back at Kitan Club like this, so I’ll talk about some of them. For example, Itoh Seiu-sensei’s essay in the 1953 January issue of Kitan Club. The title is ”My Emotional Landscape When Drawing Women in Torment”. This is the text:

I was only 17 years old when I started wanting to draw women in torment. To be blunt, it was because of my youth and horniness. I was a sculptor’s apprentice then, made minimum wage, and had no experience tormenting women. I used to put thin paper over newspaper images of women to copy them, and then draw rope on top of the images. I was once caught by another apprentice doing such thing, and remember my face turning bright red. With time, I began making a living out of painting, and I can still remember the joy I felt when I sketched my young wife (who was not extraordinarily pretty in any way), tied up with a kimono sash.
   For a while, I thought that the best way to study women being tormented was to go to the theatre. I began going in and out of the dressing rooms of various theatre performances, where I took photos of male actors who play women’s parts, and sketched them in rope. Those who had no understanding of what I did labelled me “pervert”, but I did not care. I enjoyed my “investigations”, and those investigations of “women in torment” have now been going on for more than forty years. I had no idea where I would end up, nor did I have a clear goal. I simply loved “women being tormented”, and was obsessed with my drawings. Just like a person who loves fishing goes out to fish, I decided to go deeper and deeper into my interests. Since there are no other reasons behind my work, I like to think my emotional landscape when drawing women in torment is no dofferent than that of Utamaro when he was painting shunga. There are no scenes of women being tormented in shunga, but I believe that the aesthetics at the core – that of making something ugly into something beautiful – is something that my work shares with shunga.
   The fact that Kitan Club, a magazine specializing in the reverse (?) was created in the Kansai area and not Tokyo, proves the intelligence and business-orientated mindset of those originating from the Kansai area.

   The publisher has used an amateur female painter to spark an interest in people. The works of Kita Reiko, a woman, are very good, and have a quite feminine, soft touch. She has been like a kite pulling everybody along the way. But it almost seems, though, like publishers and fans of fetish culture applaude Kita’s work simply because of the fact that she is a woman. Not differentiating her work from her gender is a messy way to kill her career. Businessmen today, even in the publishing business, don’t take care to let people go through training. They care more about the already established people and that is a bad habit. It would take me another 10 years to train and refine the woman Kita Reiko.
   As someone who did not complete elementary education, my own drawings are not that different from those done by amateurs. Those who can only create compositions from still life are unable to sketch moving people. You are only a “professional” if you both have full knowledge of the human body and anatomy, and are able to come up with compositions of scenes of torment. Beyond that is up to your talent. To draw women being tormented it takes, like Lao-Tzu once said, “nine years to fully accomplish it and become whole.”
That’s what Seiu-sensei wrote. Thinking about it, it was probably Minoru-san from Kitan Club who had asked him to write this contribution.

 

bild 2Picture 2

bild 3Picture 3: A disarrangement of the Japanese hair style

I received the photos (1) and (2) from Seiu-sensei one time when he treated me to drinks in Ikebukuro. Sensei usually drank at a place called Taisaku in Hondai sakana machi, but I think he had errands in the area that day. I was a simple restaurant, and sensei suddenly said: ”I’ll give you these”, and put the photos on the table. Looking at the pictures, I saw that it was pictures of a fully nude woman tied with her hands behind her back with aranawa [straw rope].
I heard myself spontaneously making a sound, surprised to see the photos: ‘Oh…!’. Now days, it is not uncommon with fully nude shibari, but at that point in time, they were very rare. I was shown these most stimulating things I’d ever seen and my head started spinning. That’s how thrilling it was.
‘S-sensei…!’
‘I’ll give them to you if you like them.’
‘Really? For sure? Thank you!’
I was touched. This was before Uramado was published, so pictures of a woman tied up with aranawa were practically non-existent; They were treasures. Frankly, the blood was rushing to my crotch.

Sensei also had his bad sides. He got me drunk and showed me, someone who likes these kinds of things, these photos. Seeing this, your hearts starts racing and your face grows red. My excitement was anticipated, and my crotch got hard, and seeing this, sensei grinned. I carefully took the three photos I received that night home to my apartment in Hatagaya. When I came home, I masturbated and it felt like my hips were melting.

Of the three photos I received, sensei liked the third best. As noticeable in his drawings, sensei liked the traditional Japanese hairstyle that had become disarranged. This scene probably spoke to him on a sexual level, seeing the cord tying the hair almost about to snap. Speaking of photos, photo (4) is treasured masterpiece.

bild 4Picture 4: Is that your wife, so gruesomely suspended?

I received this photo along with the others. At the time, I was an editor for Uramado, and this was to be published in the magazine. It’s probably an unpublished treasure. I don’t know when it was taken, but looking at the photo, it looks like it was taken in sensei’s art studio. Sensei had done a suspension of his pregnant wife like in the image ”The Lonely House on Adachi Moor” and wrote about the hardships he had encountered in Kitan Club. Perhaps photo (4) is from that time?
They must have thought ‘how about this?’, tried to take a photo, setting the focus on the camera. However, it seems the rope was slowly slipping, so it didn’t go too well.
The person to the left seems to be sensei, but back then they didn’t have the flashlight cameras or panchromatic film we have today.
They had to retake many of the photos, so it is most likely one of those retakes. Nowadays, there are loads of automatic cameras, but that’s not how it was back then. This photo shows just how hard it was taking photos with those old cameras.
It goes without saying he couldn’t do it without the pregnant model and her do-or-die spirit as she is tied up and suspended, but I think about Seiu-sensei with respect when I think about the tenacity needed doing this.

bild 5Picture 5: Tying up a kabuki oyama

bild 6Picture 6: Torment and the beauty of a traditional Japanese hairstyle

The photo (5) is a very rare photo from a glass plate. It’s taken with a dry plate, and the person in it is probably a kabuki oyama [male actor in female kabuki role]. As sensei had mentioned in ”My Emotional Landscape When Drawing Women in Torment”, he entered the world of kabuki to research for scenes of tormented women. There is a story published in Kitan Club that is about precisely this, in his series of texts labelled ”sexual fluids” [1954].
The oyama in the picture was probably somebody important in the kabuki world, but I can no longer remember the name. The same applies to the woman in picture (6), and it’s such a shame that the names are forgotten. This was taken at a certain SM-enthusiast meeting where Seiu-sensei himself tied up a beauty. In pictures (7) and (8), you can see Seiu-sensei standing behind her. These are very rare photos.
Maybe, some of the readers will look at picture (7) and think: ‘Oh, but that’s me!”

bild 7Picture 7: SM-enthusiasts surrounding the yukata-clothed Seiu-sensei

This event was held by the owner of Chikusui bookstore, Mr. Itoh Chikusui. Quite a few were present at the meeting. There were some people I know, and some have already passed away. Seiu-sensei, clothed in a yukata stands in the middle. The old man in the front row, wearing a white shirt with his hands on his knees is Mr. Itoh Chikusui.
I believe he has done much for other enthusiasts, also for me, and he passed away shortly before Seiu-sensei did. The two were good friends, and although they did argue from time to time, in essence they got along well.
Among the people behind them are authors, critics – a whole world of able persons.
It has slipped away from me whom the beautiful woman sitting in front of Seiu-sensei is, but I’ve heard she was quite exquisite. In picture (8), Seiu-sensei is forcefully making her sit down by holding her collar in that pose. That’s some nice care to give.

bild 8Picture 8: Seiu-sensei creating a pose

I’ve been to this kind of photo sessions with sensei several times, and he has a lot of fun tying women up. His eyes become squinty and he is like a fish in the water.
Picture (9) is a piece that he worked hard for, the ”Snow Torment” [yukizeme, 雪責]. Sensei has written a lot about this photo session in the snow. However, it isn’t made clear who the model is. Thinking back, I wish I had asked him about that, but nothing can be done now.
I have done shibari in the snow as well, and it is very difficult for both the model and the photographer. Your limbs feel like they are falling off, so you can’t really express the beauty of torment. With that in mind, sensei must’ve struggled during that photo session.

bild 9Picture 9: A scene of the famous Snow Torment, where the model fainted

In pictures 10–15, aranawa is used to tie the models at the photo session. Picture 11 is the same oyama mentioned before, and as always, you can feel sensei’s infatuation with the disarranged traditional Japanese hairstyle.

bild 10Picture 10: Black hair and rope wound together, becoming one

bild 11Picture 11: An elegance you don’t see nowadays

bild 12Picture 12: A torture scene filled with lyricism

Looking very closely at pictures 13 and 14, I feel that they look like an oyama. What do you readers think?

bild 13bild 14Pictures 13 & 14: I would like to replicate these scenes

bild 15Picture 15: Another scene of torment and disarranged hair

Returning to that night at the restaurant in Ikebukuro, I was treated to drinks and given the photos that would be published in Uramado.
”…Let’s go”, sensei said and asked for the bill and paid it.
Sensei’s wallet looked like a small cloth bag and at the opening there was a long string attached. He would wind up the string and take out the money when paying.
”Thank you for the treat”, I said politely.
”Well then…”
We went to the Ikebukuro bus-terminal and took a bus bound for Shinbashi.
I’ve been lost since coming to Tokyo, no sense of direction, so sensei told me ‘come with me’, and I just followed him.
Something memorable happened during the bus-ride. After sitting on the bus for 30 minutes, a woman with a traditional Japanese hairstyle boarded. She looked like a geisha. The smell of hair oil filled the bus.
”That’s nice, right? Really nice…”, sensei said to me and tried to peek down the back of her collar. He must have been fantasizing about tying up a geisha.
‘That is nice…yeah… Really nice’, he said, and tried peeking down her collar again. He kept saying ‘that’s nice’, over and over again, as if looking for conformation from me.
I signalled that I agreed with him, and looked at the expression on his face, happy as a baby. I accompanied him to Shinbashi, but I strangely can’t recall what we did. Sensei usually drank at a place called Taisaku in Hondai sakana machi. The mistress there had a beautiful way of walking, and was overall a sensual woman. It was obvious that she was sensei’s type. The mistress was a big fan of Seiu-sensei, and in a room where only regulars could sit, there was seme-e with rich colours, that everybody looked at while drinking. When sensei got drunk, his slim-wasted kimono slowly unravelled, and when that happened his fundoshi would show. At times, the fundoshi would loosen, and his penis would fall out. When this happened, the mistress of the bar carefully tucked it back in. Then it peeked through again, and got tucked back in. Sensei was like an unmanageable child; he must have enjoyed making the mistress do that.
Sensei didn’t marry until the age of 28, and until then he was a virgin. Even if he were like today’s youth, he must’ve led a very diligent and clever life. However, growing older he liked to be more of the happy-go-lucky type, telling lots of anecdotes.
He did many eccentric things, like turning over the paper lanterns of police that came arrest the drunkards, stopping trains, paying with railway tickets for the alcohol when he didn’t have enough money… etc. People saw him as an eccentric person.
Tying up a pregnant woman like in the famous work of Mr. Yoshitoshi Tsukioka and taking photos; tying up a fully nude woman out in the snow to sketch her and pushing it to the point of her fainting… Simply speaking, these are anecdotes that society would frown upon. However, to me, it says a lot about Seiu’s great ability to take action, and his passion in the pursuit of his truth.
There are no evil spirits if there is no ill will. Not to mention, not caring about the views of mainstream society and of rising above caring what reputation he might get. Walking his own path at full speed – born and raised in Edo.
I met sensei also at another meeting for SM-enthusiasts and had the privilege to sit by him. I had been to sessions like this before where he would tie up the female model, but this one left a strong impression on me.
Seme-e was a region of his interests; he had started as a genre painter, and he was among the best. From a young age, he had drawn clippings and billboards for plays. As an artist, he had even painted billboards for kabuki, rakugo, shingeki, and public corporations, so he knew many different people, and nobody would badmouth him. Even though he was considered a master painter, he had little to no arrogance to him. On the contrary, he found it troublesome for people to call him that. That was the kind of person he was.
When I came to Tokyo in 1954, I had no time for an idle life and started working for Amatoria-sha as an editor for Amatoria (Uramado was after this). It was around that time, that the writers hired by the company were invited to a temple, Ryousenji in Izu. The following is what happened on the bus-trip there. We called the trip ‘Amatoria festival’ and had it written on a red banner with white letters and put it at the back of the bus. Sensei sat right in the back seats and kept drinking happily, and as you know, the more you drink the more you need to pee. As we couldn’t stop the bus until arrival, sensei was a bit troubled. And I happened to witness, as he pretended as nothing was happening and urinated into his cup of beer. He put the cup to his mouth. When they filled his glass, he continued drinking and when nature called, he emptied his bladder in it. On top of it, the person next to him ended up drinking this urine and beer mixture as well. During this time, everybody was engaged in spirited discussion. There were jokes and puns coming one after the other. Sensei was smiling broadly with his round baby-like face, and his eyes sunk into his wrinkles. His eyes were kind and beautiful.

Sensei was without doubt happy at this period in time, and at times when he was really happy, he smiled so broadly he slobbered. After becoming an editor for Uramado, I came to meet sensei often. I would also join him for drinks, often at aforementioned Taisaku in Hondai sakana machi.
When Seiu-sensei passed away [January 1961], I proposed to Mr. Takahashi Tetsu that we hold a memorial for sensei Seiu, and now that he also has passed away [1971], I don’t know what will become of these memorials. It’s a bit lonely.
Next, I will talk to Mr. Dan Oniroku as well and perhaps attempt to organise a memorial for sensei. It was cold on the day of the funeral. Sensei didn’t like grandiose gestures, so the publishing company sent modest, but beautiful flowers with that in mind.
At the funeral, I remember seeing master 長老今輔 and master 金馬師匠 from the rakugo [storytelling] world. Also, among magazine related people were, in addition to the editor from Naigai Times, also Mr. Ueda Seishiro, as well as other publishers from different parts of Japan.
From Amatoria-sha there was me, the chief editor for Manhunt magazine [マンハント, published 1958–1964], as well as Mr. Nakata Masahisa. As for other editors and ones that are still working with SM-magazines right now, I can’t remember any. While Mr. Takahashi Tetsu and Mr. Higashi Kikitomo and other attendees were seeing sensei off, I endured the sadness and helped carry sensei’s coffin down the alley.
Ah, a great man has fallen, without much resistance in the world.

Itoh Seiu-sensei passed away in 28 January 1961, at the age of 81. Just a couple of days before a new issue of Uramado was sold in bookstores.
In that issue, there is a featured story by the newcomer SM-author Hanamaki Kyouta’s called “Literary Club Member Y – An Illustrated Story ”. This same Hanamaki Kyouta a pseudonym for Mr. Dan Oniroku – one of his first publications in a magazine. It’s funny that at the same time a great man falls, Mr. Dan Oniroku takes his first steps.
To close, I’ll say one more thing regarding sensei. Mr. Takahashi Tetsu wrote this about sensei’s multi-volume work The History of customs of old Edo: “I will forever be thankful and looking up to Naito Shizuka and Nozawa Seiza [pseudonyms Itoh used in his youth] and remember how they became, in the Taisho era [1912–1926], Seiu Itoh.”
Although sensei’s work stopped, there have been people wanting to know more about the person and artist Itoh Seiu – so how about a get-together? The 28th of January is the anniversary of the old man’s death. That is a time of the year when it’s quite cold outside, so I propose instead his birthday, the 3rd of March, during the peach festival. Let’s get together regardless of the weather, be it sunny or rain. Let’s indulge in his art, have a ghost festival and drink in his honour. If we do that, I’m sure he’ll be very happy about it. Well, please let me hear your opinions. Spring and lanterns are still far away.

If you have opinions about the Seiu memorial, please reach out to Mr. Minomura Kou. The late Mr. Takahashi Tetsu’s quotation was taken from the book『江戸と東京 風俗野史』(有光書房, 1971).

*************

Translated by Shiba, commissioned and edited by Bergborg / KinbakuBooks

Minomura Kou: Congratulations on the launch of Kinbiken Tsuushin (1989)

bild 1-2

Minomura Kou: Congratulations on the launch of Kinbiken Tsuushin

 At a recent workshop with Naka Akira in Copenhagen, he brought as a present to each of the participants a piece of paper with his autograph and a traditional Japanese ”hanko” name-seal. I am not really a collector of autographs, but the piece of paper made me think of the text below, that I commissioned Shiba to translate for me already a year ago or so, but have not shared on the blog yet.

The context of the following short text is this:

As Kinbiken was developing, they started to release also a printed ”magazine” called Kinbiken Tsushin [”Kinbiken Communications”] with texts and photos by the people in the group, but also from friends. I have in my collection an almost complete set 1989–1999 (I am still hunting for example for issue 16, which contains the letter from the model ”Aki”, that plays an important role for Vincent Guilberts movie The Peonys Whisper – see here).

After the premiere issue, the second issue opens with the following congratulatory letter from Minomura Kou to Nureki Chimuo, where Minomura also draws a historical line from his own work, and his mentor Itoh Seiu.

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Minomura Kou: Congratulations on the launch of Kinbiken Tsuushin

Congratulations on the first issue! The card enclosed is a handmade business card [名刺] of my former teacher [恩師] Itoh Seiu. The card was sent to me together with some congratulating words by Sensei when I made a special newsmagazine which was named KK Tsuushin for rope-enthusiasts while I was working for Kitan Club. Later, when I was working hard on Uramado after moving to Tokyo, I had Sensei’s business card present as an amulet. I think of it as an amulet for those working in the field. It’s weird, but through it bad things can get better when you are in trouble. You might not be able to believe it, but I see it as an amulet which has a mysterious spiritual strength when it comes to this field. So, I’m sending it to you, my brother who is standing in the front line of the field in these modern times. The business card is not the original, though. I’m sending you a copy. I can’t give you the original now because I am in the running for a literature award (to which I entered a manuscript which involves SM), and I can’t let go of the amulet until I find out the result. I will give the original to you, my brother, as soon as the result comes out. So, please forgive me sending you the copy. Anyway, this is just a quick note to congratulate. Sorry for the hasty writing. Please edit the text as it suits you and publish it if you wish. Thank you.

Minomura Kou

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Translated by Shiba, commissioned and edited by Bergborg / KinbakuBooks

 

 

Randa Mai interviews Akechi Denki (1999)

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Randa Mai interviews Akechi Denki
in Speculum, No. 8 (1999)

The following interview was translated by Nana. Thank you for your help!
Randa Mai has kindly allowed me to share the text and images here. Thank you!
Translation commissioned and edited by Bergborg / KinbakuBooks.

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Randa Mai’s SM friendship journal – Series Vol.3
The grand master of the world of Kinbaku: Akechi Denki

Today’s guest is Mr. Akechi Denki, who is my senior and someone that I respect greatly, an influential figure in the SM world. I have already a long-lasting friendship with him. Currently, Akechi Denki is trying to introduce Japanese kinbaku to the world outside Japan. Akechi Denki, who is particular about kinbaku, loves kinbaku dearly, and devotes everything of himself to kinbaku – I am certain that he is the only person who could convince the world about kinbaku. So, this time, I would like to present ‘The world of Akechi Denki’.
Randa Mai [R]: It is a pleasure to see you after such a long time. I am sorry that I came on a busy day for you

Akechi Denki [A]: It has been ages. Have you been well?

R :  Yes. It seems that you have had a lot to do, but I hope you have been well?

A : Yeah, I have been doing my best somehow.

R : Though there is no particular theme we must talk about, I thought I would like to start by asking what you are up to at the moment, and your upcoming plans. It seems to me that your tendency has been considerably different recently, compared to before.

A : Yes, that’s right. It’s 180 degrees different.
About 15 years ago, when I started doing the ‘Phantom Show’, there were quite a few well known journalists coming to see the show. If I asked them ‘Please write about it in the magazines’, they said ‘I don’t want to write about the Phantom Show because I want it to be only for our pleasure’, ‘I don’t want it to come out to the mainstream of society’, and so on.
And indeed, at that time, my soul as an ‘enthusiast’ was deep. I thought: ‘I had better not present myself in the mainstream culture’, ‘SM should stay in the underground for good’, and so on.
However, since about 4–5 years ago, I have been invited to various places and people have started to say: ‘This cannot be a thing only for the underground’.
Back then, various people were doing so-called ‘SM shows’ at various places at that time and I went to see them, and I thought ‘this is not really right’. There were shows in which the idea of SM was strangely twisted, and seemed only superficial. Their so called ‘shibari’ was also absolutely ridiculous. ‘Well then…’, I thought – it was like I was coming out. I told them: ‘Hey, that is not the way to do it’ … And it turned out everyone was pleasantly surprised at what I spoke. They were like: ‘There is someone who thinks earnestly even in the SM world’… I felt I got such a response from them, so I became aware that I would need to do what I did more publicly after all.

R: So, you decided to step into the spotlight?

A : Yes. It was just around that time when I met you, Ran-chan, for the first time, wasn’t it?

R : Yes.

A : You were doing stage shows. I had heard that there was someone who had the same soul as mine. I went to see your show and talked with you. You understood what I said and we connected with each other. I often said ‘Randa Mai is the only one who is promising among the young’ (laughing).

R: I was in my 30s at that time (laughing).

A : SM is about the heart, it cannot be a superficial thing. If you could find one submissive woman, she is a treasure. You have to embrace everything about her. For example, listening to her for things on her mind. I have been saying this again and again.

R : I understand it well.

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A : I have recently been dragged out to different fields again. For example, I made an appearance at a big cultural conference in Akita prefecture. [1]

R : That was also given a big write-up in a tabloid magazine (laughing).

A : Indeed, you are talking about the matter of Ms Ishii Mitsuko [t/n : an actress-turned-politician], right? I was performing kinbaku at the conference, as requested by Mr Saegusa Shigeaki [t/n : a composer]. Suddenly Ms Ishii came in to intervene and I was a bit annoyed, but Mr Saegusa got in between, and I was able to continue. Mr Okuda Eiji [t/n : an actor and film director] talked to the audience. There was a massive ovation in the end.

R : You are receiving a lot of attention, but in the wrong way.

A : That’s right. Various media came to interview me, too…

R : By the way, Sensei, you are going to the Netherlands again soon. Could you tell me about it?

A : Yes. To Amsterdam. I am invited to perform at an annual event called ‘De Mask’.

R : When you do such activities abroad, it is because you want to introduce the beauty of Japanese kinbaku to them, isn’t it?

A : Yes, indeed. I feel that shibari is a Japanese culture. It’s a traditional thing that has been handed down since ancient times in Japan. Indeed, Japan is the only country which has a history of shibari.

R : An invitation to perform at ‘De Mask’ must be a big thing.

A : Yes, it’s the first time for an Oriental person. Enthusiasts from all over Europe, around 3,000 people, will gather there. I was chosen as one of only five performers who have a chance to perform there. It’s the biggest underground event in Europe. Really, I think that this time it could be a critical turning-point for me.

R : It seems your performance in the Netherlands last year became a hot topic and you were recognised. [2]

A : That’s right. I have heard that it became a thing that was talked about. I did a lot of interviews, also with regular newspapers… They thought the whole scene was mysterious, that a woman who was tied in various forms with a single rope screamed with pleasure and held me tight as I embraced her at the end.
It took place in the biggest SM club in Europe called ‘Doma’. No one cared about me at first. They were like, ‘A weirdo came from the East’. I was not welcomed, really. But when the show was over, everyone stood up and applauded. The owner of the club explained to them: ‘This is also one of the forms of love’.

R : Wow, that sounds amazing. So, when is the ‘De Mask’ event happening?

A : It’s the 29th May [1999].

R : I see. By the time this magazine comes out, it’s already over then. I guess it will be a hot topic again, at home and overseas… I am looking forward to hear about it. Please do your best by all means.

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A : Thank you. Yes, I have to work hard. Recently, I have got a request from a famous Taiwanese female film director to create an installation for her film. I am working on it right now. The thing is huge, though it is an installation using rope, of course. Two girls are fiddling with each other on top of a gigantic bird cage which has been made with rope. The movie is a fantasy about what sex will be like 100 years from now. But it is also hard work. I have been racking my brain (laughing). [3]

R : That sounds challenging. Changing the subject, what are your thoughts about the current SM industry?

A : Well… In short, there is not enough ingenuity there. Their ways of expression are quite poor.

R : As I have also written in my column in this magazine, it has become too standardised.

A : Oh yeah, that’s right. They make it too easy. There is something more, a deeper place. The way to express the embracing of the woman, the ingenuity in the tools we use, etc. Devotion, that’s devotion. It’s not there. It seems as if they are doing a routine task. There are too many of them who do not know what SM really is. Even the way they use rope, they do unbelievably terrible shibari. For example, the model’s chest rope is loose and ends up around her neck, so she is almost dying, it is all so dangerous (laughing).

R : There are also people who are not even aware of the difference between musubi [knot] and shibari [bind]. Indeed, some people don’t know that women get sexual pleasure through their minds, rather than just by stimulation of their bodies.

A : Uh-huh, it’s mere abuse those people are doing. There are many people whose soul is not there.

R : I think the amazing thing about Akechi Denki is that you have such a soulful feeling like: ‘I would die with the submissive woman anytime’. How about that? The feeling of: ‘I would die together with her if something was to happen to this woman while we play’… I feel it whenever I see you play…

A : Yes. Of course, I would not be able to do what I do to the women if I was not prepared to commit suicide by cutting my belly. That’s love.

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R : Getting into such a mindset can be ‘pleasure’ on our side, too. It’s like: ‘This woman has my life in her hands’. It’s impossible to do truly bold shibari or play until we get that feeling.

A : It’s about opening your heart.

R : This is the biggest thing I have learnt by watching Akechi Denki’s play. If you are anxious, feel hesitant or cowardly, you are not able to do further, deeper play. We feel an amazing pleasure when both of us manage to get into the same state of mind, that is (laughing).

A : Anyway, men are unreliable nowadays (laughing). Unreasonably immature. They don’t have energy to lead, can’t push it like: ‘Look at me!’. Women are stronger now (laughing). I wouldn’t like to see submissive men taking over the world, to be really honest (laughing). I think that ultimate submissiveness is about ‘to be a baby again’. ‘The other person does everything for me’, ‘The other person finds where I feel pleasure’ and so on. Real babies are like that, aren’t they? If they cry, they get breastfed, food, a nappy changed. Babies can’t take care of themselves. Aren’t submissives the same? They do not need to do anything. The other person does everything for them. …People who have strong submissive tendencies tend to have the ‘habit of return’. They wish to go back to being children. I believe so.

R : I see.

A : So, that’s why men should not live that way (laughing). A man must fight. He must protect the woman. He has to embrace everything about her. Like, up to the point where he is able to take over the role of her mother. You should treat a woman in that way if you love her. We should keep developing ourselves… It’s ridiculous that some people who are not able to do it are messing about with such issues as ‘two-timing’ or even ‘three-timing’ (laughing). I am like: you are really not such a powerful man! (laughing).

R : Dear readers, are you listening? (laughing) Akechi Denki is angry (laughing).

A : Don’t talk about SM if you cannot even successfully seduce one woman! (laughing)

R : Sensei, please calm down (laughing).

A : Just joking, I shouldn’t say those things even if I really want to (laughing).

R : What do you think about the SM world having become commercialised? … Because, all of us so called ‘kinbakushi’, including me, we are making a business out of the unique world called SM. We are using it to earn our bread. But I feel that Akechi Denki is a bit different.

A : Yes. Basically, I don’t think it’s a good idea to make a business using SM.

R : As I expected. You are a true ‘enthusiast’. That’s why you are an amazing existence. You don’t do SM for business, don’t take advantage of SM. Those of the same trade are using it conveniently and make a business. I am the prime example (laughing).

A : (laughing) You wouldn’t have any trouble doing it because everyone has approved. … Well, yeah, I absolutely don’t want to lose my heart as an ‘enthusiast’. However, I have a sense of responsibility and self-awareness as a professional, naturally. Without that, I cannot continue to do it. Especially when it comes to ‘SM as a show’, I have a pride and confidence in it as a professional. That’s my grass roots. I am also hoping to make a study of it.

R : What is ‘SM’ to Akechi Denki?

A : … (pausing for a while) …that’s rope. I call myself ‘Nawashi’, I love rope and I love shibari. That’s ‘the act of exchanging love through rope’. I would say, everything begins with Ushirote Shibari and ends with Ushirote Shibari. [t/n : ‘a tie with the hands behind one’s back’.]

R : Do you have any dreams or goals for the future?

A : Yes, I want to keep challenging myself to do various things. I would like to tell the world about the culture and beauty of Japanese shibari. Also, I want to research in the history of kinbaku, and I hope to make this legacy remain. It won’t make much money though (laughing). But I want to leave my footprints in the future generations.

R : I want ‘Akechi Denki’ to always stay on top, one step or two steps ahead. I want you to keep running ahead of us. Then I am encouraged to do my best when I see your back.

A : Yeah, I want my juniors to keep following me, and then I want them to overtake me eventually. Maybe ‘Randa Mai’ can do it, indeed.

R : It’s absolutely impossible to overtake you (laughing).  But I will do my very best to get close to you.

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– After the dialogue –

That was the evening of our reunion after a long while, and we got carried away in conversation. After all, the energy of ‘Akechi Denki’ is incredible. I am always overwhelmed. He is always thinking about something new. I could not get more pages in the magazine for our conversation, but we also talked about the history of kinbaku extensively as we both adore it. I found out that Mr. Akechi has been researching in the history of kinbaku in depth. He is always thorough in everything he does. He is a man who does nothing by halves. That’s why he is phenomenal. I, as a person who failed in my U.S. promotion last year, am proud of his success and high reputation in Europe as a fellow countryman, and I also envy him as a person in the same business.
I can’t resist sighing when I look at my article about ‘black market porn videos of U.S. reimport’ (laughing). Akechi Denki is the greatest. I am not even close. I hope to keep seeing new ‘legends’ of him being born.
Akechi Denki – From Tokyo, Age unknown
In the late 70’s, he participated in the SM experimental theatre-group GSG planning. There, he was responsible for directing and supervising the shibari. He was also active as a Nawashi himself. He constantly creates new shibari projects such as Tokyo SM Project, SM Bomber and SM Aquarium. During the Adult Video epoch of the 1980’s, he became widely known as he made an appearance in many videos by production companies like Uchuu Kikaku, VIP, Endo Pro, Athena Images.
From July 1987, he organised Studio Phantom – a members-only gathering. In September in the same year, SM Experiment Theatre at Studio Phantom was launched and had a regular performance twice a month – it ran a long-term performance of 10 years until June 1997.
After that, he organised four different types of gatherings such as SM Society Denki’s Meeting and so on.
In the early 1990’s, he worked as a nawashi on various photo-publications, V Cinema [t/n : feature films produced and sold as a video format without theatre release, often containing soft porn elements] and TV.
In August 1997, he opened Salon Garasha and still continues. In 1998, he performed in the Europe’s largest SM club Doma, and also at other places in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and elsewhere. In 1999, He is the first Oriental person who is formally invited to Europe’s biggest SM & Fetish party DeMask, and will also perform in the Netherlands, Belgium and so on.

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Notes by Bergborg

[1] The cultural conference included a panel on ”the art of kinbaku” [緊縛芸術]. One of the other participants in the panel was Dan Oniroku.
[2] About the performance in the Netherlands, see an earlier post here: https://kinbakubooks.wordpress.com/2017/07/03/akechi-denki-visiting-europe-1998/
[3] The movie mentioned was given the title I.K.U. Available on DVD. A short trailer for that gives you an idea can be seen for example here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nyt4UwgMsS0  Read more about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I.K.U. 

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Translated by Nana, commissioned and edited by Bergborg / KinbakuBooks

Akechi Denki Interview (2000)

The following text and images are from the book 日本緊縛師列伝, edited by Sanada Nobuyuki and published in 2000 (see an earlier post here ). Text and interview by Nozawa Na [1]

The translation is done by Emi Kinako, commissioned and edited by Bergborg / KinbakuBooks. Thank you for your help once again Emi!

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cover Nihon

Akechi Denki is respected as the most skilled performer in the kinbaku world. Unfortunately, I have never seen his shows myself, but according to rumours they are astonishing. Whips and candles are the norm, and sometimes models are shaken from side to side mid-suspension. Of course, the girls end up crying and wailing, and some of them lose consciousness…

I had the opportunity to meet this person. To be honest I was extremely nervous before meeting him. This was because- I may be exposing my naïveté- I felt as if I were about to expose my lack of knowledge about SM and kinbaku. The only knowledge that I have is some names of kinbakushi and a basic idea what they do.

Of course, since I work in this industry I do have a strong interest in the world of SM and kinbaku. However, I find myself hesitating to go and investigate further. I can’t explain the reason behind that very well, but I think it is because of the specific “world” SM has – I would say that it is a psychological world – I find myself doubting if I can understand that world fully. This insecurity stems from my strong interest in the world.

interview

With that said, I was extremely anxious when meeting Akechi Denki during this shoot. It was my first time meeting a nawashi, let alone seeing shibari be properly done. There was no way for me not to be nervous. However, when I actually met Mr. Akechi, he quickly blew away any kind of anxiety I had.

He is, simply put, a very nice person. When you see Mr. Akechi in SM magazines, he seems like the type that you can’t get close to; this may be because he wears sunglasses and his expressions are completely hidden. In reality, he isn’t like that at all. He is very gentle-mannered, and made me feel at ease. When you speak to him, you start to wonder if this man is truly the Akechi Denki, the man behind the torturous kinbaku shows. But of course, that was until the shibari session was about to start…

The featured model of the day was Mr. Akechi’s assistant as well as partner for his kinbaku shows, Ms. Kyojo Yumeji [2]. She is 26 years old, and has been working for Mr. Akechi for 2 years. She has been appearing in his shows quite often, but this is her first time being a model for a shoot. It seemed that she was feeling a little nervous.

“I’m sorry I asked you so suddenly. But all you need to do is what we always do.”

I saw Mr. Akechi cheer his model up. With those words, the nervousness disappeared from her face. It seems like nothing, but this kind of care makes a woman feel very happy.

The shibari session began. The calm and warm Mr. Akechi had disappeared. The man standing in front of us was a serious bakushi at work, working the rope into the female form.

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The first item Mr. Akechi put in his hands was not asanawa, but red cotton rope. After tying Ms. Yumeji’s arms behind her, Mr. Akechi pulled on the rope that was in his hand. The model was tied down tightly, yet the rope slipped right off of her body! The art of untying without touching on the rope used to tie the pattern. I wasn’t aware of this practice, but this is the practice of hojojutsu, something Mr. Akechi is currently working on.

”Hojojutsu [捕縛術] is something that began in the Edo period, under the rule of one of Edo’s five great shoguns, Tsunayoshi [1646–1709]. This is when the class system of warriors, farmers, artisans, and tradesmen was established. There were different ways to tie members of the different classes. Every feudal clan had its own secret system of tying. Depending on the criminal, there were different rules for tying; which way the rope was to go, what colour was to be used, and so on. For example, once a warrior was tied in a pattern for commoners. This was considered extremely humiliating and disgraceful. The warrior committed seppukuin order to pay respects to his monarch. Because of that, the ruling monarch filed a complaint to the shogunate government, and the person that had tied the warrior was beheaded. Tying was one of the eighteen budo arts. It was said that if you hadn’t mastered this art, you could not call yourself a warrior.”

Mr. Akechi was generous in showing us his tying techniques. Though he was tying complicated patterns, all he had to do to untie the model was to pull one section of the rope. It almost felt like I was watching an elaborate magic show.

When showing this technique while performing at “Department H”, he suspended the model in a sakasa-ebi-zuri(upside down shrimp) and elevated her to a height that he couldn’t reach. The model was somewhat lowered and then dropped sideways into an ougi[fan], and finally into a sakasa-ippon-ashi-zuri[upside down one leg suspension]. He had demonstrated three patterns, two transitions in total. All the patterns were done in the hojojutsu style, so in the end, the ropes slipped right off of the model.

“It took me three months to perfect the ties for that show. Hojo-shibari is extremely difficult. It’s relatively easy for anyone to tie the ropes very tightly so that it’s safe. But it’s extremely difficult to tie someone who weighs fifty, sixty kilos, make sure they’re secured, and then be able to tug on the rope so that everything undoes itself…”

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Hojojutsu is considered a secret technique, and much of it has been passed down only by oral tradition. Therefore, it isn’t an easy task to decode its details. So far, Mr. Akechi has decoded twenty-seven styles, but that took him five years. The effort is admirable. There is a reason behind his passion for hojojutsu.

“This kind of stylized shibari is uniquely Japanese. There are records of rope being used in western style torture, but nothing that is specific to class systems. I consider this a Japanese tradition. We can say that it’s a tradition of shibari. I have a strong urge to maintain it as a form of traditional Japanese art.”

Says Mr. Akechi. Though hojojutsu is something uniquely Japanese, due to the fact that its history has been only orally transmitted, many have started to forget its existence. Perhaps this urge to maintain the art comes from the fact that he is a bakushi. In the past two years, he has been performing overseas as well; this comes from his hopes to spread the culture of rope internationally.

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However, it’s important to remember the erotic aspect of rope. Mr. Akechi says that the foundation of his ropes lie within the kinbaku used during SM scenes. The reason behind Mr. Akechi being allured into the world of shibari was a magazine targeted towards “maniacs”.

“I was in the third grade when I first came across Kitan Club. I came by it at a rental book store in my neighbourhood. I still remember feeling shaken by a photo of a woman being tied (laughs).”

From then on, he hid away and read copies of Kitan Club. It was around then that he started to want to tie women up. However, this fantasy took ten years to become a reality. He was nineteen years old, and faced with a sudden tragedy.

“My family went bankrupt when I entered high school. My parents basically sold me off, telling me to work for a craftsman for five to six years. Two other apprentices were there as well. Their salary was five-thousand yen, and mine was five-hundred. I learned that my parents had agreed with the craftsman to send them the rest of my salary. I got letters from my little sister, who’d been sent off to work as a baby sitter all the time. She told me how hard life was on her, and how lonely she was. I also saw dried up tears on the letters. My sister was either in the first or second grade. It was unbearable. I ran away from my job two years later. I wanted to establish myself. I worked under different masters, became independent at eighteen, and half a year later, I had one hundred people working for me.”

Two years later, he had built his own home, and brought his family back together. His vitality is unbelievable. This story seems unrelated to kinbaku, but there is actually a strong connection. The eagerness to bring his family back together translates right back into his eagerness in relation to kinbaku. Without that experience, there would be no “Kinbakushi Akechi Denki.”

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“I experienced tying for the first time when I was nineteen years old. My partner was a woman I met in a bar. Unlike now, there weren’t any SM clubs. I had to “hunt” in order to find myself a partner. It would start by a meeting at a bar and a conversation. You would find someone who’s your type, and ask her if she’d like to go to the movies. You would date for about half a year, and then go to a hotel. There, you would tell her that you’re interested in tying and show her your rope. Most girls ran away the moment they saw my rope. I repeated that process over and over. Sadomasochism was still considered abnormal, so most people didn’t know what a sadist would do to you. In other words, they’d think that you were broken, that you would go around stabbing people on the street, and look at you that way. I would speak to maybe one hundred women, and maybe twenty would come to a hotel with me. Out of them, oneperson would let me tie them. So, after speaking to a hundred women, only one of them would let me tie them.”

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One out of a hundred. The low chances are mind blowing. If it was me, I imagine I would forcefully tie any woman that had followed me to the hotel. But Mr. Akechi is different; he is a true gentleman.

“I wouldn’t do it to someone who didn’t want to. I can’t tie if there isn’t any love behind it. So, I tried my best not to scare them.For example, I started by using neckties, or sashes used for yukata instead of rope. I took steps so that they get used to the rope. I also try to create an atmosphere where the woman wants to get tied. I’ll show them patterns and tell them ‘There’s beautiful patterns like these, I’m sure you’d look great in this pattern.’ I would have a full-length mirror around, too. I would keep it at that. I would untie them, give them a hug, and tell them ’Thank you, you looked beautiful.’ ”

So far, it seems as if Mr. Akechi is the one who is doing the serving.

“Ha ha, that might be true. But the top has to put in a lot effort. Otherwise you won’t be able to find a good bottom. You need to pour in all the effort and service until they become your bottom.”

The service he speaks of is to heighten the bottom’s characteristics as a bottom. You have to go to such lengths to find yourself a bottom.

“You can only find a bottom by using your money, time, brains, and effort. Submissive women are like diamonds. Actually; you spend even more money, effort, and time on them, so they are more precious than diamonds. That’s why you need to love them,” says Mr. Akechi. His passion towards submissive women has not changed to this date. “You’re able to have a great scene because you’re in it with someone you have fallen in love with. In other words: You can’t tie them unless there’s love behind it. Even to this day, when I perform, I only think about the person I’m tying. When I’m tying, I’m only looking at the model. I only speak with the model. By doing so, your feelings go through to them. When that happens, you’re able to perform a great show where both of your hearts are connected.”

Speaking of performances, let’s have Mr. Akechi tell us how he became a rigger and performer.

The opportunity rose about twenty years ago. When viewing an underground theatre-company’s experimental SM show, he befriended one of the members of the company. That friendship led to him helping out at the shows. At first, he was simply a “maniac” (a fan of the SM world) that was helping out. However, audiences began to request his appearance, and he began performing hour-long shibari shows after the main performance.

“The kind of shibari I practice during performances is for the spectators. It’s different from what I do in my private life. For examples, in my private practice, the intention isn’t to show off. I can wrap the rope around the bottom’s body freely. All that matter is that the bottom gets a sense of being bound. But when I’m performing, I’m given an hour, I have to tie as beautifully as I can, and suspend the model to her limits.”

He ties his models beautifully, but edges them to their physical and psychological limits. Of course, danger is something that flickers in the background.

“It’s true that there are risks of danger when I’m performing. I’m tying in front of an audience, so I can’t undo my ties. I’ve made mistakes in the past. An inexperienced model injured her shoulder, and her arm went numb. But those kinds of mistakes made me the rigger I am today.”

Though Mr. Akechi mentions he becomes heavily emotionally involved during his performances, he maintains a sense of coolness during his performances. That is because there are certain risks that are constantly behind the performances.

There are times when Mr. Akechi performs three times a day. Since he’s so enthusiastic about performing, there must be an allure that he cannot deny.

“It’s when the girls’ facial expressions make an extreme change. They really do change. That gets me. It makes them seem adorable, and I want to hug them instantly. Other than that, when a girl comes over and over, or when they’ve been tortured, I can’t hold myself together. There’s times when the bottom’s crying out of joy and comes and hugs me. That gets me, too. It’s a sense of connection, rather than excitement. I feel as if I can get connected with the girls on another level when I perform on stage.”

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At today’s shoot – or rather, I should call it a live performance – in the final scenes, I felt as if I witnessed what Mr. Akechi told me. Ms. Yumeji, freed from a suspension, looked as if she was about to lose consciousness. Out of the blue, Mr. Akechi pinched her nipple. In that moment, I heard Ms. Yumeji scream out of pain. Her body began to wince, and she was moaning. My attention had been taken aback by the shibari, but before I knew it, both the model and rigger were heated up, and a full-on scene was taking place before us. This was no longer a simple shoot.

I swallowed my breath as I kept watching. I have no idea what’s about to happen. The tension was high; just like a kinbaku performance.

With her nipple still pinched, Ms. Yumeji rolled to her back. I can’t hear her voice but she was breathing very heavily. Her facial expression told us that she was suffering. Mr. Akechi’s open hand begins to press onto her stomach, over and over. I started to hear her moan again. I heard this later, but apparently Mr. Akechi was placing pressure onto her diaphragm to send oxygen into her system. In her case, by doing so, she is able to drop into sub space easily.

Next, Mr. Akechi’s hand slapped the floor next to her ear. As he did so, her body began to tremble, though he wasn’t touching her directly. The trembling became harder and harder. With Mr. Akechi slapping the floor, Ms. Yumeji’s body began to make bigger flinches. With one final shudder, she led out a scream and fell. It seemed as if she had come as hard as she could. Mr. Akechi held her tightly. I found myself being jealous of the connection they shared.

“It felt amazing,” says Ms. Yumeji about today’s experience.

“If I get to feel that good for hours and hours, I wouldn’t mind doing a shoot again. You only get to experience this feeling for an hour during shows.”

She seemed very content. But I had one question. Why did her body react the way it did when Mr. Akechi was slapping the floor?

“I made her get used to it. I trained her so that when she hears that sound, her body reacts the way it does. Just like Pavlov’s dog,” was Mr. Akechi’s answer. I wondered if that was really possible, but since I’d seen it for myself, I have to believe him. I hear about his other shows, and they don’t cease to surprise me.

Out of all the things I heard, the most impressive thing was how there was a model who flipped into a completely different personality when she was being tied (it turned out that she suffered from dissociative disorder). A lot of women visit Mr. Akechi’s salon Garashawith issues and questions, as well as requests to be tied up by Mr. Akechi. The aforementioned model was one of them. When Mr. Akechi shooed out the separate personality, the woman lost consciousness, and regained her main personality. It sounds unbelievable, but after seeing Mr. Akechi’s performance, I can be convinced that this may be true.

However, it isn’t only women that fall into that kind of state. Mr. Akechi himself tells me that he faces weird situations during shows.

“There are times when the rope runs and does its own thing. My hand is simply on the rope. I’m not there, and I’m just obeying the ropes orders. It’s a very strange sensation. I get sucked into it. It really feels like I’m giving every bit of my body and soul, my life, and my will to fight. I feel like I do what I do because I want to see how far I can go.”

This kind of situation happens about once a year or less. Perhaps it is something that only one who has reached the top of rope can experience. It would be amazing to be a part of the audience if that were to happen.

Lastly, since we are entering the new millennia, I asked Mr. Akechi about his goals and ambitions.

“I want to set up a project related to hojojutsu by the fall. By next year, I want to compile everything into a book, so I want to look for someone to study the art with me. Also, performances. I obviously want to continue performing domestically, but I have plans on performing overseas in the fall as well.”

Time is not a changing factor for Mr. Akechi’s passion towards performing.

 

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***

Kyojyo Yumeji Interview

That day, Ms. Kyojo Yumeji accompanied Mr. Akechi as his assistant. She is twenty-six years old, and it is her first time modelling for a photo-shoot. However, she has been Akechi’s show model numerous times, and there are times where she fills in for other models.

“It’s not rare for models to get their period, or get sick. In those cases, I fill in as a model. That happens a lot for performances (laughs). But I’ve never done a photo-shoot before, so I’m a little nervous.”

It’s been two years since her and Mr. Akechi first met.

“A girl I know modelled for Sensei (edit: She calls Mr. Akechi Sensei). And then I heard he was hosting a SM party. I asked her to let me tag along. I was a little interested in SM.”

At that first party she attended, she was mistaken as someone else’s slave and got whipped, hot wax dripped on her, and tied. She had not experienced any serious play before. It’s unbelievable that this was her first experience.

“The end of the century was coming close, so I figured I should experience SM for myself.”

She was interested in the world of SM, but not that serious.

The first time she was tied by Mr. Akechi was after the SM party. In her afterglow, she mentioned “I want to be suspended next time!” to which Mr. Akechi answered, “Do you want to get suspended now?” She ended up getting suspended then and there.

“Everything was happening so suddenly. Then, it turned out that I was going to appear in his ‘Phantom Show’! I was suspended, whipped, dripped with wax, I couldn’t believe how fast things were going.”

It was around the same time she started filling in for other models.

“I heard that there was going to be a performance at a theatre, so I went to help out backstage. But the model suddenly got sick, and I took her place. I’d only been tied by Sensei four times. And there were so many people in the audience. I had no idea what was going on. But Sensei went ahead and twirled me around, me suspended mid-air. My foot once hit the lights, and I was terrified. After that, I’ve been scared of being twirled around.”

This wasn’t the only time she had frightening experiences. There’s plenty more.

“Sensei uses daggers in his shows, but the other day that dagger scratched my throat, and it still hurts. And once when we were at a party, he found a pulley and said: ‘Let’s try hanging from the neck.’ So I got suspended from my neck. It was hard enough when I was on my toes, but he started suspending further. My body went off the ground! That was rough. I was breathing like I was having an asthmatic attack, and Sensei boasted: ‘This is how people breathe when they are about to die’, and showed me off. I was about to black out. I checked afterwards, and there were clear rope marks on my neck.”

Though she goes through such experiences, she does not leave Mr. Akechi’s side. In fact, she is currently his assistant, takes care of his scheduling, and plans his shows. How is this possible?

“No matter what happens, I feel safe when I’m with Sensei. When I’m feeling mentally vulnerable, he takes the time to listen to me. He treats me like a real human being, and not only a play partner. That makes me happy.”

I feel like her words answer any questions. Her trust and respect towards Mr. Akechi. Those emotions allow her to withstand the hardships of being his model. On top of that, she gets to feel another sense of emotion;

“Sensei’s way of tying is indeed, hard, but there’s a sense of ecstasy that overthrows it. When I’m playing with him, I feel like the way I do while having sex. Actually, it’s much deeper than what you can feel with your genitals.”

And to this day, she gets tied by Akechi Denki.

 

Notes by Bergborg

[1] The editor adds about Nozawa Na: ”A superstar of the erotic world, Nozawa Na has various nom de plumes, works also with erotic photography and directs indie videos.”

[2] Kyojo Yumeji (京城夢路) also appears for example in the akechi-photobook by Yoshiki Saitoh (se an earlier post on this blog here). There is a live-scene with Kyojo Yumeji and Akechi Denki in the DVD called 明智伝鬼の世界 8.

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Translated by Emi Kinako, commissioned and edited by Bergborg / KinbakuBooks

 

 

Akechi Denki: Interview in SM Secret Club (1997)

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Akechi Denki: Interview in SM Secret Club (1997)

In 1997, the magazine SM秘密俱楽部 (SM Secret Club) published an in-depth interview with Akechi Denki.

In 2009, NuitdeTokyo made a translation into English of this interview for Osada Steve’s website TokyoBound: [ http://www.tokyobound.com/blog/?p=245 ]

I have been looking for this magazine for quite some time, and recently was able to get my hands on it and add it to my collection.

I asked NuitdeTokyo and Osada Steve for permission to republish the translation of the interview here on the KinbakuBooks blog, which they generously allowed me to.

Thank you!

***

Introduction from TokyoBound

The following interview is from volume 6 of SM 秘密俱楽部 (SM Secret Club) published in 1997. It used to be a relatively minor player within the Tsukasa Shobo Publishing portfolio – ranking behind magazine titles like SM Fan and SM Frontier, that left their mark on Showa era SM publishing.

After a messy change of ownership, Tsukasa Shobo went bankrupt in 2007. The interviewer for the article signs as Tajima Osamu, a fairly common name. An internet search hasn’t come up with any other SM-related works under that name.

Interestingly enough, the article includes mention of Osada Seminar pioneered by Osada Eikichi .

Thanks to NuitdeTokyo (NdT for short) we can bring you now the English translation of this interview. Next to Master K, NdT is probably the most avid collector of Japanese SM literature. In the past, NdT has discovered another Akechi Denki interview (from ca. 1976) and kindly shared it with us here.

For those unfamiliar with the who’s who’s of the Japanese Shibari and Kinbaku world, both Osada Eikichi (長田英吉) and Akechi Denki (明智伝鬼) are considered grandmasters of the art – the former having passed away in 2001, the latter in 2005. The probably last ever interview with Akechi Denki Shi was conducted by Osada Steve (長田スティーブ) for Steve’s own magazine, Fetish Japan, and for SM Sniper, one of the largest surviving SM magazine players, until it folded in January 2009.

Before we now get to the actual story, a few words by NuitdeTokyo:

Throughout the translation I have used the word ‘fetish’ for what the Japanese like to call ‘mania’ because I feel the present usage of the word in Japanese is closer to ‘fetish’ than to ‘mania(c)’. I have also added some notes inside the text (indicated by NdT). The original article also had notes, but I have incorporated their contents in the main corpus.

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Akechi Denki interviewed by Tajima Osamu, in ”SM Secret Club” (1997)

The first magazine specializing in SM and hentai [pervert] material was the highly regarded Kitan Clubwhich started in 1948. Its long-time editor was the legendary Minomura Ko [NdT: please refer to Master K’s excellent book The Beauty of Kinbaku for additional information] who contributed in several ways to this special publication. Alongside with him, many people – some famous, others not – may be called the first generation of post-war Japanese SM. Akechi Denki may then be called part of the second generation.

The first generation was strongly influenced by the war. For example, an enemy ship sank Minomura Ko’s ship and he was left adrift in the Pacific Ocean for many days. It was then, where he promised himself that if he ever made it back alive, “from now on, I will do the things I like”. Also, the author has directly met someone who was working in China as a spy for the communist guerilla, was arrested by the army and subjected to unspeakable torture. The spirit of resistance he nurtured in these conditions blossomed into non-orthodox eroticism. These are people who “have seen” the space between life and death. When compared to the “young” people entering SM from the fashion side, there is a rather wide generation gap.

For the second generation, death was a rare encounter, a seldom seen acquaintance. But obviously, hunger and starvation were there . . .

“At primary school, several levels were crammed into one classroom. When it was time to eat, several students were customarily left alone, as they did not bring a lunch box; they had to do with a glass of water. As for me, it was mainly just rice with a pickled prune on top, but I saw several students in my school year die. At that time, it was nothing strange.”

The family of Akechi Shi was a well-respected family of craftsmen. Thanks to that, its environment was comparatively privileged. But at this time, the term of “war” could still be applied to a food supply situation, which, in an unseen way, was gnawing away at the developing bodies of the young generation. So, several times, Akechi Shi was suspended between life and death. At the same time, as we shall see later, his family was getting closer to financial ruin.

“At the time I was growing. I had an extremely strong interest in the body of women. I had this girl next door to whom I had been close since kindergarten. Together we often played doctor. The fact she did not have a male sex was very strange, as if it had been reduced to a pebble. I did some fairly wild things. After that I was very much attracted to the female bottom. I often peeped into the toilets from the small windows there. I knew in detail all the neighboring public toilets.” (laughs)

While Akechi Shi was already showing in his young years a good deal of lusty curiosity, the encounter with the magazine Kitan Clubtook place while he was in his third year of primary school.

“When I saw this at the old book seller next door, it was an experience I would remember all my life. Flipping the pages, I could see women being tied up, ill-treated, it was shock strong enough to burn my body. As I was clinching my pocket money to purchase the magazine, the shop owner barked at me, “This is not something for kids. What is your name?” and I was forced to write my name and my address (laugh). I was distressed for a moment, and thought of several strategies. A shop close by was not good. And I contemplated asking one of my uncles. Finally, I grabbed my bicycle and went to a book rental shop in the next town and rented a copy of Kitan Club without getting any remark from the shop owner. As soon as I got out of the shop, I started on my bike as fast as I could.”

The young first-time reader of Kitan Club matured rapidly and his first hands-on bondage was in his second year of junior high school. His partner was a younger girl who was living close to the family home of his mother.

“As we had a good relationship, until the third year of junior high school we used to take our bath together. We would play doctor. I would tie her up and make her roll on the ground. But once, we were surprised by her parents and they started chasing me (laugh).”

Be it with a classmate in kindergarten, or with a childhood friend, it appears that Akechi Shi was a “special person” since the youngest of age.

For people who are into fetish, they are doing it as a strictly personal thing, not even disclosing it to their wife or girl friend, and feeling frustrated, can only envy such an early development. Akechi Shi probably has a special gift for attracting women. Even when only doing an interview, this is something you can feel. The black sunglasses, the clothes, very often black, are not a mere show. There are also no complicated conceptual words to try to throw a cloud of smoke at the listener. Akechi Shi tells in a soft voice of its past hard times, stories, which would normally cause people to get very tense. These stories are so interesting that they draw strongly the attention of the listener.

When reading the stories in Ladies Magazine [at that time, Akechi Shi was running a series where average female readers would volunteer to have a first-time SM experience and be tied up], one can only empathize with the amateur volunteer who says, “If it is him, I will let him use my body as he wishes”.

“In SM there is a relation of trust. If the partner does not fully entrust her body with a complete peace of mind that is when accidents do occur. When I am performing shows, I tie rather hard. Of course, I attach the utmost importance to the limits of the partner. As soon as it is finished, I softly embrace the partner while telling her something like “you have been very courageous”. At that time, the thread of the kinbaku snaps, and the model, while shedding big tears, nestles herself against me. At this time, the girl’s expression is really cute.”

Upon hearing this, one can catch a glimpse of the stance of Akechi Shi towards women.

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When Akechi Shi was in high school, he tried to join the Kendo club of the school but was refused after taking a medical check-up. The rheumatic fever he contracted when he was young was not completely cured. Upon reflection, it was a bad omen.

At the same time, the businesses his father was involved in failed completely and his father disappeared. The house was mortgaged and in fact the entire family was dispersed. Akechi Shi himself was forced to enter into apprenticeship as a house builder. At that time, apprenticeship really meant living as a domestic in the house of the tradesman.

“As we were living in, we had to wake up at 6 am. The atmosphere was a bit like being sent to jail. Of course, it was out of the question to even touch the tools. It was really learning by watching only.”

In the construction business, bullying and bad treatments were also the norm. Up to now there is a scar on the back of Akechi Shi’s right hand, the result of a saw strike by a sempai.

Then, suddenly, when he was 19 he suffered a heart attack. The initial rheumatic fever had left his cardiac valves constricted, which meant that blood was sometimes flowing in reverse direction into the lungs, possibly leading to death.

“When I was told by the doctor that I was not very likely to live beyond thirty years, it all became black in front of my eyes. But being sad would not serve any purpose. I had two younger sisters, which had been entrusted to different relatives. From time to time, I received some letters, there was no explicit mention of loneliness or of things being hard, but one could feel it from the general tone of the letters. And I promised to myself to get again a house where all the family members could live together. If I lived each day with double intensity, even though I may die when I am 30, it would be the same as dying when I was sixty. Very simply, the trick was not to sleep.”

So, he worked while allowing his suffering body only 3 hours of sleep every day. He had to learn his work faster than the others. Soon he turned independent, recruited some available workers, and he became himself manager and bookkeeper. At the top, he had more than 100 employees and before he was 30 he managed to build his own house and bring back his mother, his sisters and even his father.

It was at that time that the SM desires started burning again. Using his worn body as an experiment machine, he furthered his studies of shibari by observing and copying.

When doing shibari, where does the weight of the body creates a tension? In Ebi Shibari, up to where can one bend the body? When doing shibari with rubber bands and you want to test the limits, how long can you leave them in place? All this he managed to understand. “I also did tsuri, I also probably did some absurd shibari patterns. I remember that tying oneself creates a strange feeling of psychological intoxication. As such, I think the S and M are two sides of a single entity.”

“Late at night, when the work place was deserted, I also managed to convince a girl working for the company to let herself be tied. As my heart was bad, I was always wearing a sarashi [a roll of white cotton cloth wrapped around the chest] under my clothes. I took it off and used it to tie up the girl (laugh), as the workplace was often a shop or a department store, we used to roam naked among the counters and the mannequins. I devised quite a number of ‘plays’ at that time. Even for the owner of a business, seducing an employee, because of the future consequences did require a certain amount of boldness. I obtained a good understanding of kinbaku.”

Certainly, there is a special mood when Akechi Shi is holding a woman close to his chest. More importantly, for him, at that time, there was no ‘future consequences’.

“Anyway, I kept thinking that I had only 10 years to live. As for me a girlfriend was someone who accepted to die with me. I was only getting 3–4 hours of sleep per week going for long drives with my girlfriend in the middle of the night. Kissing while driving at mad speed along the edge of a cliff. This is one way of trying one’s luck. I was not sure whether this girl would go along. But after, she slipped in the space under the steering wheel to suck my cock while I was driving. While I was getting a blowjob, sleepiness overwhelmed me and before I realized it, I had bumped into a village house. We were both completely naked (laugh).”

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Apart from work and SM another thing was absorbing his attention: billiard. Akechi Shi was playing as a professional gambler and hustler. People were betting like on players the way they bet on horse racing. In that world every evening, tens of thousands of dollars would change hands. If you lose probably someone will squash your hands.

“I had this guy, wearing a soft hat and a muffler, who looked as if he would give you some amphetamine to liven up the atmosphere. As he would be overtaken by sheer energy of the opponent used to increase his concentration power by training bare feet after having spread ice on the ground below the billiard table.”

In fact it was a real world that looked like a movie. Today, billiard is considered a sport. At that time it was supposed to be a gambling activity with a strong scent of underground. “Somehow, it was close to SM,” says Akechi Shi with a wry smile.

Just at that time, Japan entered into its period of high growth. Akechi Shi spent his third decade living at double or treble speed. But this way of living finally exerted its toll.

“As I turned 30, I started spitting blood and was taken to the hospital.”

But when he was fully resting in the hospital, unknown to him, a lot of things were happening. His father who had taken over the management of the company after his son was hospitalized started to quarrel with the employees. Akechi Shi was already married for the first time, but at that time the bad relationship between his wife and his mother and father became apparent. And simultaneously, the business of the company started to turn bad.

“The employees came to the hospital and protested that they could not work under that guy (my father). My father protested. The debts started to accumulate. My wife was crying. Although I was not supposed to receive visitors, there was mayhem around my bed. In the end, my wife left my newborn child in my hospital room and disappeared.”

“I felt obliged to do something which was really beyond my strength at the time; and tottering like a sleep walker, I wandered in the middle of the night around the hospital. Also at that time, I often went through near death experiences. I was floating close to the ceiling of the room. I could even see the top of the heads of the family members in the room.”

Finally through a miracle performed by a very good heart surgeon, Akechi Shi managed to recover. But upon leaving the hospital, his company was bankrupt, he had to relinquish the home he had built.

“My father had again in a hurry entered into dubious speculations. I asked him if he wanted again the family to be dispersed and I started to hit him. But my father, normally stubborn and with strong arms, collapsed on the floor and covered in dirt started to cry. Seeing this I also started to cry. It is only a house. We shall build another one, let’s not worry.”

Akechi Shi stirred himself back into action. It was then the second half of the seventies and at that time he made a fateful encounter.

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Sakurada Denjiro, who was at the time leading an underground theater group named Sekai Gekijo [Theater of the World] had just established GSG Planning to organize SM shows. The year was 1978. Sakurada was a frequent visitor of OSada Seminar, but in terms of SM, he was really an amateur. In short, he was collecting huge amounts of money by enticing people to come and watch a show that was little more than scandalous theater. Seeing this, Akechi Shi was utterly disappointed.

“It was really a bluff. It was only a substitute which could not satisfy people looking for the real thing. At the end of the show I manage to talk to Sakurada. ‘What you are doing is no good,’ I told him. I even sent him a whole bunch of Kitan Club back issues. One thing leading to the other, I ended up joining his theater group as a Shibarishi or supervisor.”

Contrary to expectation, underground theater and SM have an unexpected affinity. Terayama Shuji [head of the underground theater group Tenjosajiki (The Upper Gallery)] used to say that theater is a machine for “physical self-punishment”. In 1970 at the launch party of Kachikujin Yapoo [Yapoo: The Human Cattle] the members of his Tenjosajikigroup staged an SM show [NdT: Kachikujin Yapoo is a very famous anticipation SM novel looking at things from the male sub point of view. Written by Numa Shozo, it was originally published as a series in Kitan Club between 1957 and 1959 and was praised by Mishima Yukio. The first book edition took place in 1970 due to censorship issues and the article refers to the launch party of that edition. There was a French translation in 2007, which received the Sade literary prize in Paris. ISBN 978-2268055664 for volume 1/3. I am not aware of English versions although the book is widely referenced by scholars of Japanese subculture. The term Yapoo has become widely used especially by makers of male sub movies.] Many theater groups also included female actors in gyaku-tsuriand suffering physical punishment as a means of creating performances with a strong visual impact. The Scandalous Theater Group led by Tamai was also one the groups specializing in SM performances. In terms of subculture, it was not, in itself, very surprising that underground theater groups were feeling close to SM as the “front line of sexuality”.

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CSG Planningeagerly introduced many of the plays that Akechi Denki had been imagining over the years. Progressively what had been a secondary project became the main focus. The evenings where, after the theater show, a real shibari show was taking place were very well attended. They became the selling point of CSG shows, starting a tradition that continued until today with Akechi Shi live shows. At the same time, Akechi Shi finally adopted the Akechi Denki name.

“To tie up the very popular actress Kurokawa Mayumi was a really good occasion. She said she really had no M/sub tendencies at all. She was really good looking. As for the shibari part of the shows they did not really have a fixed program, it was more like an ad-lib improvisation based on the feeling of the place, a show where the tying was really constructed live. To show a different tie every time is really, really difficult. But if you feel like doing it, it is really enjoyable,” explains Akechi Shi, reminiscing on his time with CSG Planning.

After the CSG period, Akechi Shi mainly appeared at Tokyo SM, SM Bomber,and SM Suizokan [SM Aquarium]. [These three series of shows resulted from a split of CSG planning.] Among those, the extraordinary performances organized by SM Bomber are still being talked about in fetish circles. There was also an obvious friendship between all these related groups, and Akechi Shi was sometimes invited as a joint guest performer and he could display some rope action of which he was rather proud. In other words, Akechi Shi continued to display energy three times as high as a normal human being, and, given the occasion, he would aggressively deepen his affinity for the fetish world. This is probably a better way of looking at things. Among the fetish people (without limiting oneself to SM) there is often a certain difficulty to act and a feeling of being bottled up which was not at all apparent with Akechi Shi.

If CSG Planning was what made him become Akechi Denki, SM Bomber is the place where he developed and polished his skills.

SM Bomberdissolved itself after 2 years and Akechi Shi could not avoid a quiet period for a short while. But the fans he had accumulated since the time of CSG did not stop there.

“At the time of CSG Planning, there was an Association of the Special Members which was a kind of circle devoted to fetish performances and I took over the duties of that circle. The circle members told me, ‘Please start your activities again,’ and this was the start of the Akechi Denki Kinbaku Photography Club. By the way, many of the members were not so young and could not attend so easily, or had relocated, and there were many setbacks on the budget side. Intended as a way of getting new members and doing live shows again, the Phantom Show was started in 1987. It is the predecessor to the present [NdT: in 1996 when the article was written] Studio Phantom. During the Phantom Shows, I did a number of tsuri-otosu [吊り落とす, suspension drops] which consist in letting the model drop like a stone from a tsurito within a few inches off the ground. When falling, the koshi-nawa bites sharply. When you look at it, it is very impressive. But if you make a mistake, the woman’s head will hit the ground and you have a big accident. The technique requires good timing and full control of the rope tension and not many people can attempt it. There were also times when I would throw bits of concrete at the tied model so she could just dodge them at the last second. The fear-frozen look of the model and the open mouths of the surprised spectators was something I had never enough of. Maybe I went sometimes too far (laugh).”

Although CSG Planningdid close, Akechi Shi did not lose any of his boldness. Right now [i.e. 1996], Akechi Denki and Studio Phantomare doing shows in the well-known SM club called Nakano Queen [NdT: the space still exists today in 2009]. In addition, Akechi Shi is managing five other circles and also takes part in numerous films and videos.

“One of the projects is a collaboration between SM and Noh [NdT: the traditional Japanese mask theater form]. The aim is to show the beauty of Kinbaku in the context of Noh dance. Of course it is a fantasy, as I will not be able to rent the Tokyo National Theater to show my SM, so I have to find a method to make it work. It is still a secret. Please come and see the show.” [NdT: we are not sure to what show Akechi Shi is alluding in that passage.]

Akechi Shi has in the past done joint shows with a pianist. And one can think that those joint performances with a feeling of remix are contributing to open up and expose the possibilities of SM. So we will wish Akechi Shi all the success in his venture.

 

 

Minomura Kou: Poems in SM Kitan (1979 and 1980)

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SM Kitan was an SM magazine published 1975–1980, with lots of high-quality materials. We will be returning to it here on the blog.

In this post, I want to share some poetic texts written by Minomura Kou, accompanied by an illustration (also by Minomura). This was a recurring feature in the magazine. The material I have chosen is from SM Kitan issues #9, #10, #12 (1979), and #1 (1980).

The translations are done by rish. THANK YOU again!

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Hey, one more time 
Terribly sweaty all over the body
Sticky and slimy wet
Never experienced such cruel things
Being pinched and hit…
Being tickled and hurt…
You played around with me mercilessly
You were great tonight
Manly and violent…
Ah, that’s why I was on fire
It was good, it made me go crazy
Hey, mess me up like that one more time

 

 

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Rope-love blues

Ah, the rope… the friction…

If I move my hips even a little

It presses hard on my embarrassing spot

It’s painful…

It’s very tight

”Getting wet, right?”

Please don’t say such embarrassing things

You know I’m very sensitive

You are mean, such a cruel person

Please remove the rope already

No, I want you

Please torment me more with your body!

 

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Sweet cry
Hey, forgive me… Be patient with me…
The arms hurts… and it stops the blood
The tips of the fingers are getting cold
Tops of the boobs too
You treated me so violently
I am throbbing, aching
Hey, it’s enough now, right
It’s hard… and painful…
No, it’s not that I dislike it
It’s not that I dislike it but now, now…
Hold me
Hey, please hold me…

 

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The cry frowned upon
Ah, don’t look
Don’t look at me so much
You do know that I’m shy
You are mean, looking at me from behind
The touch of your breath tickles me
Oh, don’t touch
No, no, no…
I’m too loud, you say, but it’s impossible not to
Because you are too good
Yes, there, harder
Ah, you may, you may look

 

– Translations by rish, commissioned and edited by Bergborg / KinbakuBooks

 

Yukimura Haruki: Scent of Immorality (1985)

The text and photos below are taken from a magazine called ”Monthly Knockup”, published in Osaka. It contains mainly advertisments for sexual services (with phone-numbers and prices). From 1985, it is the earliest publication I have found featuring material using the name of Yukimura Haruki (雪村春樹).

Thank you inid for your work with the translation!

For some previous posts about Yukimura here on the blog, see: https://kinbakubooks.wordpress.com/category/yukimura-haruki/

 

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Scent of Immorality – The Story of a Woman

by Yukimura Haruki (Text and Photo)

From the magazine 月刊ノックアップ  [”Monthly KNOCKUP”]

Issue 3, 1985

”The Art of SM Hunting” Serial Story, No. 6

Last spring, I met a woman for taking pictures. Because I got introduced to her through an acquaintance, I hadn’t yet heard any details of her background. Judging by her looks, she was just an ordinary girl, approximately 20 years old – generally she gave an impression that she had nothing to do with SM. First, I got her naked and peered through the lens of my camera. I guessed that she hadn’t had much experience with men, as the shape of her body seemed like it had hardly yet reached full maturity. Why did such a girl have an interest in SM?

Since I had agreed not to question her about private matters, I tried to keep the conversation harmless.

“You look young, since when have you been interested in SM?”

“I guess I was on the third grade of middle school [i.e. 14–15 years old] when I first heard about SM. A boy in my class showed me a magazine.”

“So, you’ve been interested ever since?”

“Not really. Umm, it was more like I thought about whether it would feel good doing those kinds of things.”

“Had you already had your first experiences?”

“Not at all. I was a late bloomer so I didn’t lose my virginity until after I had graduated high school.”

“And when did you first try SM-play?”

“I guess about a year ago. My boyfriend at the time was crazy about SM and said he would break up with me if I didn’t do it, so I kind of had to.”

“What type of play did you do?”

“He would tie me with ropes, shove adult toys in me… different kinds of things.”

“How did it make you feel?”

“At first I really hated it because it was only painful, but he really liked it and after doing it a few times I started getting it.”

“So, you prefer being the one getting tormented? I mean, are you a masochist?”

“Yes. I don’t really like torturing men. What a pity, ha ha.”

“Do you also get excited through regular sex?”

“Yes, I do. But right now, I only do SM.”

“Well, I’ll soon take some pictures, so let’s get ready. Today I‘ll do some simple bondage [karui shibari] with you.”

We talked in this manner and started taking pictures. As expected, when I tied her, she was somewhat startled and the air was charged with tension. Of course, you could think it was because she wasn’t with her usual partner, but with me, a stranger. But no, rather, it was the situation itself that had a sense of novelty, and that made her really ashamed. As she was showing signs of hesitation, I asked her to make a daring pose.

“Can you spread your ass a little bit more? Move your legs further apart.”

“I don’t like that! I can’t do it, it’s embarrassing.”

“You’re too aware of the camera. Maybe thinking of your boyfriend tormenting you could make it easier?”

“How should I do it?”

“Open your legs fully.”

I pulled the rope running through her crotch, letting it bite even deeper into her genitalia.

“Aa… aa… it hurts! Please be gentle.”

She wiggled her ass. It seemed that she was starting to get the feeling.

“Got it, OK! Now, should we try to change the pose?”

“Wha-what are you gonna do? Fa-fast…”

She was getting more and more excited and while still being a little overwhelmed by her demeanor, I finished the job.

This is something I often think about: It seems to me that women somehow have a stronger obsession to explore sexuality, compared to men. What do you readers think?

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Translation: inid